April 9, 2024

Breaking News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued health alerts related to avian influenza (bird flu), measles, and meningococcal disease. Read the latest news including insights and explanations from infectious disease experts …

Bird Flu

Bird Flu in Humans, Explained: After a dairy worker in Texas was infected with a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu, disease trackers worry the recent outbreak among cattle could develop into a larger threat. The risk to the general public remains low, but experts are concerned about the possibility of the H5N1 virus evolving and more easily spreading from birds to other mammals … Although the virus has been detected in wild mammals such as red foxes, raccoons, opossums and skunks, experts said the virus poses a low risk to humans. People who contract bird flu are typically treated with supportive care and, in serious cases, with ventilators to help them breathe. There are also antiviral medications that are effective at treating the current strains, said William Schaffner, MD, a spokesperson for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). Source: The Washington Post

US Bird Flu Outbreak: What You Need to Know: By now, you have likely heard that the bird flu has been detected in some herds of dairy cows across 6 states–the first time the virus has infected cattle. And with Texas health officials confirming that a farm worker contracted the virus–only the second known case of the H5N1 virus infecting a person in the US–you may be wondering: Should I be worried? While the outbreak has raised concerns about possible risks to humans, the current risk to the public is low, said Schaffner. Source: WebMD


Measles Cases Rising—What Doctors Need to Know When Symptoms Present: According to CDC, as of April 4, 2024, a total of 113 measles cases were reported in 17 states across the US, and there have been 7 outbreaks (defined as 3 or more related cases) since the start of 2024. Although the number may seem modest, it represents a surge compared to previous years and is likely tied to decreased vaccination rates among kindergartners, CDC suggests. To offer insights on what health providers need to know, MedCentral talked to NFID Medical Director Robert H. Hopkins, Jr., MD. Source: MedCentral

Should You Get a Measles Booster? Cases of measles are rising in the US and around the world, which poses a risk for both children and adults who didn’t have the virus or the measles vaccine. Health organizations have recently raised alarm bells on increasing cases of measles in the US, and are urging children and adults who are not fully vaccinated to get the MMR vaccine, a combination shot that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Vaccination is especially important if families have international travel plans since cases are mounting outside the US as well. “Unimmunized adults and children are considered susceptible to measles,” said NFID President Patricia A. (Patsy) Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP. “Because the virus is so contagious, 9 out of 10 susceptible people who are exposed will get measles. It can be a miserable and potentially very serious disease for adults as well as children, and may include pneumonia, brain swelling, and loss of immune memory to other diseases.” Source: Verywell Health

Meningococcal Disease

6 Things to Know About Meningococcal Disease: Cases are increasing in the US, especially among adults. Do you know the warning signs? US health officials are warning doctors about an uptick in cases of meningococcal disease, a rare but serious illness caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. Its occurrence has been decreasing over the last decade, in large part due to vaccines that can help prevent the disease, says NFID spokesperson William Schaffner, MD. Source: AARP

Q&A: What to Know about the Increase in Invasive Meningococcal Disease: CDC alerted clinicians in the US about a rise in invasive meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup Y bacteria that could present with symptoms not typical of meningitis. According to CDC, 422 cases were reported in the US in 2023—the highest total since 2014. As of March 25, 2024, there were 143 reported cases this year, an increase of 62 compared with the same date in 2023. The fatality rate (18%) has been higher than normal for serogroup Y cases, and infections have disproportionately affected 3 populations: adults age 30 to 60 years (65% of cases), Black or African American people (63%), and people with HIV (15%), who have a higher risk for invasive meningococcal disease. Source: Healio

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